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Farm Briefs, Nov. 14

Save Jan. 14-15 for Strategic Ag Conferencein Willmar

WILLMAR -- The 2010 Strategic Ag Conference is scheduled for Jan. 14 and 15 at the Holiday Inn and Willmar Conference Center. The annual event is sponsored by the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission, the Minnesota Farm and Food Coalition and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

The conference, "A Farmer's Footprint: Quality Management in the Land of 10,000 Lakes" is from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Jan. 14 and 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Jan. 15. The cost is $55 in advance and $65 at the door. Registration deadline is Jan. 6. Get more information by calling 320-234-7370 or 888-815-7370 or at

More than $900,000 available for beginning farmers in Minn.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, has announced that Minnesota has received $919,900 in funding for local and regional initiatives that address the needs of new farmers in Minnesota.

In Minnesota, the funding is divided between two organizations: $413,820 to the Land Stewardship Project in Minneapolis and $506,170 to the Farmers' Legal Action Group Inc. in St. Paul.

The grants are being awarded through the United States Department of Agriculture as part of the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. This program is designed to help those who have been farming for fewer than 10 years through education, training, technical assistance and outreach.

University of Minnesota reports increase in debt mediation

ST. PAUL -- An increasing number of farmers and lenders are using mediation to resolve farm debt issues, according to the University of Minnesota Extension Farmer-Lender Mediation program's annual report.

Every measure of activity in the program showed sizeable increases during the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, said Richard Senese, Extension Associate Dean for Community Vitality and Public Engagement.

For the 12 months prior to Oct. 1, there was a 55 percent increase in the number of notices filed by lenders for loans eligible for mediation, totaling 3,107 such notices. These notices resulted in 1,192 requests for mediation, a dramatic 86 percent increase over the previous year. The total amount of debt involved in mediation was $322 million, more than double the amount in 2008.

The report showed 422 notices that led farmers and lenders to reach agreement about a debt. For an additional 533 notices, farmers and lenders are currently in mediation in hopes of reaching an agreement.

"This is important because it demonstrates that famers and their lenders are using the program to work together and agree how to renegotiate, restructure or resolve their debts," Senese said.

The Minnesota Farmer-Lender Mediation program is part of USDA's Certified State Agricultural Mediation Program. For more information, visit

U of M to host bioeconomy conference

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL -- Bringing together players from Minnesota's bioeconomy to explore renewable energy opportunities will be the focus of a conference titled, "Growing the Bioeconomy: Solutions for Sustainability," from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Dec. 2 at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul. The conference is co-hosted by the U of M Extension and the U of M Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment.

"Our goal is to help Minnesotans interested in renewable energy share information and make the necessary connections so these businesses can succeed," said Greg Cuomo, Extension Associate Dean for Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences.

The conference will feature speakers on topics such as feedstocks, conversion technologies, anaerobic digestion and biomass utilization. Successful examples from Minnesota businesses and communities, including the White Earth Reservation, will also be shared, as well as information on community district heating with wood and future technologies worth watching.

Speakers include faculty and staff from the university's College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences and the Institute of Technology, as well as businesses, government agencies and nonprofit organizations.

Registration is $50 for the Dec. 2 program. For details and registration, visit

Please note, a separate portion of the program runs from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Dec. 1 and will be broadcast live to host universities throughout the Midwest, including the U of M. The Dec. 1 part of the program features cutting-edge researchers in biofuels, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack and U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. An in-person panel discussion will also take place on Dec. 1 in St. Paul. Registration cost is $50 each day or $85 for both days. Participants may also view the Dec. 1 broadcast from a personal computer for $50.

Send information about your ag-related event or ag-related news to or to the West Central Tribune, PO Box 839, Willmar, MN 56201.